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The GC230D is outfitted with an Intel Atom 230 (1.6GHz) processor soldered directly to the PCB, while at the heart of this board is the Intel 945GC chipset featuring the ICH7 south bridge. It appears that all desktop-based Atom motherboards use this same budget Core 2 chipset. This chipset has been around for over a year and a half now, which may be an issue depending on your expectations.
Despite of being a budget oriented product, the 945GC still uses a fair amount of power, and is the main source of heat on the GC230D. The Atom 230 uses a 533MHz FSB with 533MHz DDR2 memory, both of which are supported by the 945GC.
Then, where this chipset really lets us down is on the graphics front due to the use of the heavily underpowered Integrated GMA 950 graphics engine, which barely deserves the name. While the Intel GMA 950 graphics work fine for basic Windows Vista rendering with the Aero theme enabled, do not expect to play any 3D games.
The ICH7 south bridge used on this board was typical of the Pentium 4/Pentium M days as it was released back in 2005. The GC230D offers two of the four supported SATA ports, with the only expansion slot being a traditional PCI port. There is also a single IDE connector on-board, supporting two devices.
Gigabyte has included a Realtek 8101E chip for 100-base networking, which is a little disappointing. Those wanting to use the GC230D as a budget HTPC would have benefited from the additional bandwidth offered by a Gigabit network controller. The audio comes from another Realtek chip, the ALC662 offers 2/4/5.1-channel HD audio.
Other non-essential features, such as Wireless LAN and Firewire, are not present on the GC230D which is to be expected. The board supports up to 8 USB 2.0 ports - 4 on the I/O panel, 4 via the optional USB brackets.
The GC230D comes bundled with all the usual Gigabyte Windows-based applications such as @BIOS, Q-Flash, EasyTune, Xpress Recovery2, and Xpress Install. We consider this to be an important added value as they make using and updating the GC230D much easier than through the traditional methods.
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